University of Colorado at Boulder University of Colorado CU Home Search A to Z Index Map
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

Science Orbit

MAVEN orbit and primary science mission

MAVEN_periapsis_passMAVEN launched on November 18, 2013, and began orbiting Mars on September 21, 2014. The first fuel burn inserted the spacecraft into a capture orbit with a period of 35 hours and an altitude of approximately 380 kilometers. Shortly after Mars orbit insertion, a second fuel burn placed the spacecraft into its 4.5-hour period requirement for acquiring data. Three smaller burns reduced the periapsis altitude of the spacecraft to approximately 150 kilometers, placing MAVEN within the required density corridor and a 75° inclination elliptical science mapping orbit.

MAVEN’s elliptical orbit (~6,000 km apoapsis; 150 km periapsis) provides coverage of all altitudes. A series of “deep-dip” campaigns (~5 days each), bring the periapsis down to near 125 km. The orbit precesses in both latitude and local solar time, which allows for complete coverage of Mars’ upper atmosphere.



MAVEN Mars atmospheric coverage (Courtesy NASA Goddard)

MAVEN orbit animation (Courtesy Chris Waters/Lockheed Martin)